HomeSportsI'm checking the hype meter for the Celtics upcoming big matchups

I’m checking the hype meter for the Celtics upcoming big matchups

Checking the hype meter on the Celtics’ upcoming big matchups originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics begin an intriguing five-game stretch with Friday night’s visit of the Dallas Mavericks. With a nine-game winning streak and an eight-game lead over the Eastern Conference, the Celtics don’t necessarily have to worry about piling up wins in this stretch.

But here’s our question: Is there one game in this upcoming series where a win would feel just a little bit better than the others?

The Celtics will get a lot of attention over the next five games. Let’s detail the road ahead and what additional motivation Boston could find in each of these games to start the month of March:

March 1: Mavericks at Celtics

We only get the battle between Jayson Tatum and Luka Doncic twice a year and the matches rarely disappoint. Given all the talk surrounding the MVP race, Friday’s game is another chance for Tatum to show the ways he can impact winning, besides scoring.

In his last five games against Doncic, Tatum is averaging 31.6 points, 12 rebounds and 5.2 assists. That includes a 39-point, 11-rebound night during Boston’s triumph at Dallas in January.

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This would be Grant Williams’ return to TD Garden, but unfortunately that will have to wait until Charlotte visits on April 12 in one of the final games of the regular season.

Forsberg’s hype meter: 2 out of 5 stars. Mavs are playing better and need wins as they remain stuck in play-in territory in the crowded Western Conference. Whether Doncic is fully healthy is a solid test for Boston. Oh, and Kyrie Irving is in town, if that matters to you.

March 3: Warriors at Celtics

Certainly, the Warriors have weathered their struggles this year. Some wanted them to blow it at the trade deadline. But not only have they won 10 of their last 12, they’re crazy Warriors.

Even with Boston’s revamped roster, Golden State is still the same team that stiff-armed the Celtics in the 2022 Finals. Boston is tied 1-2 against the Warriors in the aftermath, including a pair of overtime thrillers.

Forsberg’s hype meter: 4.5 out of 5 stars. The Celtics get a Sunday leg to show how they’ve changed since 2022. Kristaps Porzingis didn’t play in the first meeting this year, adding another wrinkle to this showdown.

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The Celtics don’t have any must-wins in this stretch, but this one might feel better than any other potential win in this batch.

March 5: Celtics at Cavaliers

The Celtics have already asserted their dominance in the East after building an eight-game lead over their nearest competitors. (Cleveland and Milwaukee were tied for second place going into Friday’s action.)

The Cavaliers were red-hot in 2024, but made little progress against the Celtics despite posting 17 of 18 wins in a month in early February. The road has been bumpier since then, and after last year’s first-round playoff run, the Cavaliers still have to prove they’re not just a good seasonal team.

Forsberg’s hype meter: 3 out of 5 stars. The Celtics handled the Cavaliers on both sides of a home-and-home in Boston in mid-December. The Cavs are much healthier and will have some tough motivation against a Celtics team that could otherwise focus on all Western Conference foes this stretch.

If the Celtics are motivated to assert their East dominance, this game will have some extra spice. The match between Jaylen Brown and Donovan Mitchell is always fun too.

March 7: Celtics at Nuggets

Do we even need an introduction here? Should we go straight to the hype meter? The reigning champions. The MVP leader.

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Denver is quietly creeping toward first place in the West and the Celtics are still sad after dropping the first showdown in Boston in January.

Forsberg’s hype meter: 5 out of 5 stars. This feels like the biggest game left on Boston’s schedule. (Since the Bucks are showing signs of getting on track, you can make a case for the visit to Milwaukee later this month.)

The Celtics took a lot of positives from the loss in Denver. They’ve been much better at finding matchups in the aftermath. The Celtics should be extremely motivated for this, and if Tatum is going to move up in the MVP voting, this game could help highlight his case.

March 9: Celtics at Suns

The Celtics have one of the easiest remaining schedules in the league, even if the first three games of this road trip don’t suggest much. They go from the heights of Denver to the Valley of the Sun.

This feels like another big night for Tatum with both Kevin Durant and boyhood buddy Bradley Beal (currently sidelined) on the other side.

Forsberg’s hype meter: 2.5 out of 5 stars. When close to full health, Phoenix isn’t lacking in star power. We’re curious to see how the Celtics choose to defend the talent-filled Suns, especially the matchup against Devin Booker.

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